"From early childhood I was raised up in the street. I lived by what we would call street justice. You know, you and nobody else. Basically, that's how I lived my life. And after a while living that way, you start thinking that everybody else is like you. They're for themselves, and you're for yourself.
Coming up as a kid I lived all over the place. I did a little time with the military. I was 17. I had a three year term, and did two. I got an honorable discharge. The reason why I went to the military was they had a thing back then that if you got a felony, you had a choice: you either go to prison, or you go to the military. So I opted for the military.
Eventually I wound up going to prison anyway.
Later in life, as I got older, I started seeing things, and seeing life in a different way. Especially after living 30 years in prison with the kind of people like I was. You just don't see any kind of goodness, especially in people. You start thinking negative things about all people. I even had doubts about the [prison] chaplain. But he was legit. I just thought that way.
I was released from prison in September 2015. I didn't have any skills, I couldn't put on a paper "this is what I do."
Talking to a guy at Career Recovery Services, he mentioned SER. And there I went. You gotta have a purpose in life. And it gave me purpose. Whereas before, I didn't think I was going to make it for real. Seriously. I thought I was going back to prison, to tell you the truth. But honestly, it went through my mind that I couldn't handle the free world. [In prison] you’ve got to do what you're told. Just kind of like being a dog in a cage. Just do what you're told. Out here, you gotta think.
I went through this thing with SER. I got a warehouse forklift certification. It was the only good thing I accomplished. I went through Serving for Success. I met people like [Training Specialist Rickey] Davis, [Director of Training and Development] Chris Pratt, and [Workforce Development Lead Buddy Oviol]. I mean, they actually cared. They made me see things in a whole different way. I learned a lot. I learned enough to be a good employee if I get a chance. If I hadn't gone through this, being truthful about it, I probably would've wound back in prison.
God blesses people in a whole lot of ways. The Houston Food Bank is one where he can bless a whole lot of people at one time. I really want to work here. I mean, this is it for me, I'm trying to make, kind of like they say, General Custard's last stand. In life, I'm committed to helping everybody. By me being here, working here, even though it might not be working on the ship channel, making big money, it's something that satisfies me.
There's people out there I've met on the street that they've lost hope.They walk around in a fog. But there are places like this, that if they just came and talked to somebody, it would be a life-changing thing if they get involved in a program like this. I try to tell them about me, about this place, about SER and the Food Bank. That's all you can do. The rest is up to them. But you gotta make the first step yourself."
If you are interested in learning more about the Serving for Success program, information and enrollment sessions take place every Thursday at 9 am at the Houston Food Bank, located at 535 Portwall St. Houston, TX 77029. The two-week program takes place every month.